///Eds: Vajpayee arrival ceremony at 9:30 a-m EDT///

INTRO: President Clinton holds talks today (Friday)
with visiting Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari
Vajpayee in a meeting both sides say will be another
building block in an improving bilateral relationship.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the White House.

TEXT: The talks here will be a continuation of the
dialogue the President began with Mr.Vajpayee last
March when he made the first trip by a U-S President
to India in more than two decades.

Mr. Clinton also stopped briefly in Pakistan for talks
on the South Asian nuclear rivalry and Kashmir. And in
a talk with reporters on the eve of the Vajpayee
visit, the President said he hopes he has at least
laid groundwork for a successful U-S effort to defuse
tensions on the sub-continent:

///Clinton actuality///

I still hope that, if not while I'm here then in
the future, because of the groundwork we've
laid, the United States can play a positive role
to a peaceful resolution to the Kashmir dispute,
which has been at the core of the difficulties
between India and Pakistan for more than a half-
century now.

///end act///

Citing achievements of South Asian immigrants in U-S
high-tech industries, Mr. Clinton said it is "tragic"
that the regional conflict has held back the economic
progress of their countrymen at home.

U-S-Indian relations came under severe strain in 1998
when India conducted a series of nuclear tests which
was followed by a round of testing by Pakistan.

U-S economic sanctions stemming from the tests remain
in place. And in a speech to the U-S Congress
Thursday, Prime Minister Vajpayee acknowledged that
security issues have "cast a shadow" over U-S-Indian

But he said both sides share a commitment to -
ultimately - eliminating nuclear weapons and have no
clash of interests:

///Vajpayee actuality///

We do not wish to unravel your non-proliferation
efforts. We wish you to understand our security
concerns. We are at a historic moment in our
ties. As we embark on our common endeavor to
build a new relationship, we must give practical
shape to our shared belief that democracies can
be friends, partners and allies. (applause)

///end act///

Mr. Vajpayee did not mention Pakistan by name in the
address. But he condemned what he said was "foreign
sponsored terrorism" in Kashmir and Punjab - both
having separatist conflicts India blames on its

The Indian leader also condemned global economic
inequities, saying the current situation in which two-
thirds of the world's people live in poverty is

Officials here say the President and Mr. Vajpayee will
discuss ways of fostering U-S investments in the
Indian economy, which is one of the world's fastest-
growing and includes a burgeoning high-tech industry.

In addition to his discussions with Mr. Clinton, Prime
Minister Vajpayee will have a luncheon meeting and
talks at the State Department with Vice President and
Democratic party presidential candidate Al Gore.


14-Sep-2000 17:08 PM EDT (14-Sep-2000 2108 UTC)

Source: Voice of America